The FX television series Sons of Anarchy is known for its brutal depiction of biker life in the fictional town of Charming, California, but another hallmark of the series is its clever use of independent music. Its new soundtrack, Songs of Anarchy, explores the program’s use of up-and-coming artists to convey the gritty reality of the motorcycle club’s members and those closest to them.
“I think sometimes of the music as a character in and of itself,” music supervisor Bob Thiele, Jr. tells Rolling Stone. “The songs become the narrative. They’re moving the story and functioning emotionally like some of the characters would.”
Thiele is a member of what he calls the Sons’ “house band,” the Forest Rangers, who play on the majority of Songs of Anarchy and have appeared in a few episodes. Sons actress Katey Sagal sings on four of the album’s tracks, and Kills singer and SoA fan Alison Mosshart joins the Forest Rangers on a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”
Despite music’s major presence on the show, producers have waited four seasons to release a soundtrack. “Halfway through season two, we knew there was a soundtrack somewhere, but Fox is a big company and they had a little show called Glee,” says Thiele. “It’s hard to measure up to that.”
Adds fellow SoA music supervisor Michelle Kuznetsky, “I think that now is the right time, exactly.” And perhaps it is: season four is the highest-rated one yet for the series. The finale airs December 6th at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.